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United States v. Ware.

No. 22-6203. 2/28/2024. W.D.Okla. Judge Rossman. Correctional Officers—Deliberate Indifference to Substantial Risk of Serious Harm—Use of Excessive Force—US Sentencing Guidelines—Downward Variance—Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence.

February 28, 2024

Ware was a correctional officer at the Kay County Detention Center, where he eventually served as both a lieutenant and acting captain. In his supervisory capacity, Ware deliberately ordered two gang-affiliated Black inmates to be exposed to inmates associated with the Aryan Brotherhood. These groups were housed in separate areas and were never allowed out of their cells and into the common area at the same time. The Black inmates were physically attacked by other inmates. In a second instance, he ordered another inmate to be removed from his cell and handcuffed to a bench in the central hallway in a position that resulted in the inmate experiencing pain, redness, indentations, and peeling skin on his wrists. The inmate was left in this position for about an hour and a half. Ware was charged with willfully depriving the Black inmates of their rights to be free from a correctional officer’s deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm while acting under color of law in violation of 18 USC § 242, and with willfully depriving the third inmate of his right to be free from the excessive use of force by a correctional officer while acting under color of law in violation of 18 USC §§ 242 and 2. Ware was convicted by a jury on all charges. The presentence investigation report calculated Ware’s total offense level as 21, and his advisory US Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) range was 37 to 46 months in prison. Ware sought a downward variance under 18 USC § 3553(a). The district court denied the variance and imposed concurrent terms of 46 months of imprisonment.

On appeal, Ware argued that his sentence was substantively unreasonable because the district court failed to give adequate weight to his personal characteristics, including his military service, steady employment history, family ties and responsibilities, and lack of criminal history. However, the Tenth Circuit must defer to a district court’s determination of the weight to be afforded to the statutory sentencing factors. Here, the district court thoroughly weighed each of the USSG § 3553(a) factors, detailed its reasoning, and imposed a sentence within the USSG that is presumptively reasonable.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit proceedings can be found at the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit website.

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